The Need for gradSERU
Similar to reforms in undergraduate education, there is a significant global movement to improve the structure
and quality of graduate programs. In Europe, for example, master’s and professional degree programs have
had similar restructuring and pedagogical reforms, in part induced by the Bologna Declaration that has
encouraged a 3+2 years cycle structure and efforts to “tune” graduate programs to create greater equivalence
among degrees in Europe, and with significant influence internationally.
In the Unites States, the problems of doctoral student attrition and time to the doctorate as well as
postgraduation career opportunities and choices have generated renewed interest within the academic
community, university leaders, and American society about the purpose and structure of graduate education.
Among the reforms in graduate education at top research universities worldwide are:
- More deliberately structured curricular requirements geared toward the array of professions the program
is intended to serve.
- Clearly stated skills students are to acquire and expectations on their academic performance – including
competencies for collaborating and working in multidisciplinary and sometimes international teams.
- Articulating the mentorship responsibilities of faculty.
- Coordination with the professions and business to better match training with labor needs.
- Collaboration with the private sector in providing internships as part of graduate training and
integrating graduate students into faculty led university–industry research.
- A focus on quality of life of graduate students and efforts to support their financial and social needs to
make them productive members of the academic community.
- Improved integration of graduate education into the larger purpose and operations of the university –
including supporting the teaching, research, and public service engagement of first professional degree
- More rigorous assessment of the graduate student experience via Program Review, faculty advancement
criteria and processes, and accreditation where applicable.
- Internationally, increased use of English in courses and for master’s theses and dissertations in
programs attempting to attract and retain international talent, and for preparing future academics and
business leaders whose professions are increasingly global in context.